I’ve decided to add a new weekly feature, entitled the Weekend Retro. I’ll post somewhere in the weekend as my work schedule permits.
In the Weekend Retro, we’ll explore some artists that are or were huge in Britain at the time but, for whatever reason, didn’t gain any traction here in the US. I think it’s important to know these people and bands because A.) They may come out with something new (a la Take That) or B.) The band may be very influential to the current crop of British artists (see The Libertines).
The first Weekend Retro is about the life and times of Robbie Williams.
American music fans view Sir Bob as a sort of cult leader, with the cult being the rest of the world. He is the Michael Jackson of the UK (minus the pedophilia, I think), selling more albums and winning more BRIT awards than anyone else in history. He is also the most popular non-latino performer in Latin America, according to Wikipedia. He’s also huge in Japan (I just had to get that one in there). For some reason, that success never translated here. Now it seems a national pastime not to like him, especially after his recent stint in rehab.
You may remember “Millennium” or “Angels”, his two Top 100 singles here. Unfortunately, most people think “Angels” is an original Jessica Simpson song. That’s Robbie’s luck here.
Robbie Williams – Millennium.mp3
Robbie Williams – Angels.mp3
“Millennium” was my first case of “I heard it first” in regards to BritPop. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time online (obviously, still do). But the family computer was out in the living room, so to drown out the sounds of the TV, I would listen to the fledgling radio stations broadcasting online. One of them was CapitalFM in London. “Millennium” was probably the first song I heard from the UK that I thought might have a chance here. The song did, his American album debut The Ego Has Landed didn’t.
Another personal Robbie story. In college I had a roommate from London. Robbie was touring to support that album, playing various small amphitheaters and clubs. He ended up playing the Hard Rock in Orlando, and my roommate and I went. It’s a standing-room only floor, and we were no less than 3 feet from the stage. My roommate couldn’t believe that you could get that close to (what he considered) the most popular artist in the world for a $10 ticket here in the US. Land of plenty, indeed.
Last year he released a dance/electro album, Rudebox. The singles from it haven’t been spectacular and have even been greeted in Britain with a shrug. He’s lived in LA for the last few years, and I think that has a direct correlation to when his music started going south. I think he’s too focused on breaking the US market that he’s putting out stuff that really isn’t up to par, trying to figure out the American “formula”. But when you had the kind of success he had earlier, it’s hard to keep that going. He’s surprised people just by being as successful as he is, so another surprise from him isn’t impossible.
Robbie Williams – Lovelight.mp3